Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 7, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

MISCELLANY....Some miscellaneous Abu Ghraib notes:

  • Brad DeLong wants to know who leaked the Taguba report to Seymour Hersh in the first place. I didn't blog this at the time and then forgot all about it, but it's a good question and I think Mark Kleiman provided the answer a week ago: it was probably Gary Myers, the defense attorney for one of the accused soldiers. Myers was one of the military defense attorneys in the My Lai prosecutions 30 years ago, and of course My Lai is the story that first made Hersh famous 30 years ago. Myers is also quoted in Hersh's recent New Yorker story, so they're obviously still in touch with each other.

    This is not a very interesting answer, since it means it wasn't leaked as the result of any kind of bureaucratic infighting, but it sounds like the correct answer to me.

  • The conservative response to Abu Ghraib has been fascinating, hasn't it? First reaction: this is horrible and the soldiers involved should have the book thrown at them.

    Second reaction: yeah, it's bad, it really is, but it's worth remembering that it's nowhere near as bad as what Saddam did.

    Third reaction: enough, enough! Jeez, it's been a whole week. This issue has been hijacked by militant Bush-haters who just want to use it for craven partisan reasons.

    Fourth reaction: still to come. Maybe torturers as heroes, thanks to testimony from someone or other that one of the scraps of information they extracted saved a convoy somewhere? Hey, war is hell.

  • Should Rumsfeld be fired over what happened at Abu Ghraib? I find myself in sort of a funny position over this.

    Yes, I'd like to see Rumsfeld fired, but I'd like to see him fired because I think he's done an incompetent job of running the Iraq war and shows no signs of improving. On the other hand, I'm not really sure he deserves being fired if it's just a symbolic "buck stops here" kind of thing over a scandal he didn't have direct control over.

    But that's the rub, isn't it? As this Washington Post editorial argues, Rumsfeld is pretty clearly responsible for encouraging and condoning harsh treatment of prisoners in general, and was quite possibly well aware of exactly what was going on at Abu Ghraib too. I imagine that goes for several other high ranking officials as well.

    So yes: fire Rumsfeld. And don't stop there.

UPDATE: The Squirrel Cage says that Midge Decter has a fine example of conservative reaction #3 edging fitfully toward reaction #4 in the LA Times today.

Kevin Drum 2:56 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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